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The 4 Best Cameras For Portraits - Black Friday 2022 Reviews

Best Camera For Portraits

While the latest smartphones can manage some pretty impressive portrait photos, the artificial background blur generated by your phone's 'portrait mode' doesn't compare to the background separation and bokeh you get with a dedicated DSLR or mirrorless camera and a proper lens. If you're looking to start shooting high-quality portraits, thankfully, there's no shortage of excellent cameras to suit every budget and experience level. If you're just getting started, you should know that lighting, lenses, and composition will matter just as much, if not more than, the camera body you use. It means that the best camera for portrait photography will be whichever camera is most easily available to you.

While a full-frame camera will make it easier to get the background blur favored by portrait photographers, an APS-C or even Micro Four Thirds option with the right lens can still get you fantastic results. While a high megapixel count is great if you're making prints, don't put too much stock in how many megapixels your camera has—most modern digital cameras offer more than enough to capture fine detail, especially for online sharing.

Having said all that, we've bought and tested over 75 cameras, and below we've narrowed down the best cameras for portraits, so you don't have to. If you're looking for more well-rounded options for different kinds of photography, check out our best cameras for photography article instead. And if you have a preference between DSLR and mirrorless, you can see the best DSLR cameras and the best mirrorless cameras, respectively. Or, if you're getting your first camera, you might also want to check out our best cameras for beginners.

  1. Best Camera For Portraits

    Though it might be overkill for some, the Sony α7 IV is one of the best all-around enthusiast cameras on the market. With a 33-megapixel full-frame sensor, it's a great choice for high-quality portrait work, whether you're making prints or sharing your work online. The camera's also very well-built, has tons of customization options, and comes with dual SD card slots if you prefer to use backup memory, on top of a fantastic autofocus system with eye AF for precise focusing.

    There are a plethora of third-party lens options, along with plenty of excellent native lenses from Sony, giving you a ton of options to choose from for portrait work. The Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 offers a lot of value if you're looking at native lenses, but don't overlook third-party options from manufacturers like Tamron or Sigma. All in all, it's a fantastic hybrid camera, but if you're more strictly shooting portraits, the Sony α7 III still offers excellent photography performance at a lower price point. However, it has a lower-resolution sensor and uses an older version of Sony's AF system.

    See our review

  2. Best Upper Mid-Range Camera For Portraits

    For most people, the Canon EOS R will be a great deal for portraits. Canon's first full-frame mirrorless camera, the EOS R isn't as well-rounded as newer models like the Canon EOS R5 or the Canon EOS R6; however, at this price point, it's a fantastic option for portrait photography. Borrowing the same high-resolution 30.3-megapixel sensor used by longtime pro favorite, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, it can take excellent-quality photos with plenty of leeway for edits and cropping, if needed. Plus, it handles incredibly well, has a high-res EVF and intuitive controls, on top of a great battery life.

    The best portrait lenses for Canon's RF-mount can be pricy, like the Canon RF 85mm f/1.2 L USM, but you can also find more affordable options, like the Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM Lens. Even better for those upgrading from a Canon DSLR: Canon's EF-EOS R adapter can adapt EF lenses nearly flawlessly, meaning you can easily use all your favorite Canon DSLR lenses with the EOS R. However, one thing you do lose out on versus the Sony above is in-body image stabilization, which can come in handy when shooting portraits handheld in trickier lighting conditions. The autofocus is also a little more reliable on the Sony camera. Still, the EOS R is an excellent-value option for portraits.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Camera For Portraits

    Speaking of Canon DSLRs, the Canon EOS 90D is our top mid-range pick for portrait photography. Unlike the picks above, it uses an APS-C sensor but has a high resolution to capture fine detail. It's also a DSLR, so while you don't get to preview your images in real-time, you get an unfiltered view of your subject and a battery life that blows mirrorless competitors out of the water. Add in a very solid autofocus system with eye detection in live view mode, and you've got a camera that's well-equipped for all kinds of portrait photos.

    Canon's EF-S mount also has a ton of native lens options to choose from, including full-frame EF lenses. Some of these are hard to beat for the price, too, like the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8, which is one of the best bang-for-your-buck lenses out there. With its 80mm equivalent on the 90D's crop sensor, it makes for a great budget portrait lens. There are plenty of higher-end options as well, including solid third-party lenses from Sigma and Tamron. Overall, it's a great camera for portrait photos if you don't want to spend a fortune but still want some premium features like weather sealing and eye AF.

    See our review

  4. Best Budget Camera For Portraits

    If you're on a tight budget or are just getting started in portrait photography, the Nikon D5600 is one of the best entry-level DSLRs for portraits, though any entry-level model will serve you well if you're just starting. While it lacks some of the bells and whistles you'd get with higher-end models like the Canon EOS 90D, like weather-sealing and more physical controls, the D5600 can take great photos, with an excellent APS-C sensor and colors that pop straight out of the camera.

    Since DSLRs have been around longer, there are also more lenses to choose from than with a budget mirrorless camera like the Canon EOS M50 Mark II. While you can learn to get the most out of the kit lens, you can also upgrade to higher-end lenses as your skills grow, from budget options like the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm F/1.8G to high-end third-party options like the Sigma Art 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM.

    If you've never used a camera before, consider the Nikon D3500, which sits just below the D5600 and offers a built-in 'Guide' shooting mode to walk you through the basics. If you don't need a built-in learning tool, however, the D5600 isn't too much more expensive and has a better autofocus system.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark IV: The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is a pro-grade full-frame DSLR with a high-resolution sensor. It's a great choice for portrait photos with tons of lens options. That said, its autofocus system isn't as sophisticated as the Sony α7 IV's, and unlike the Sony, it doesn't have in-body image stabilization. See our review
  • Canon EOS R6: The Canon EOS R6 is a great alternative to the Sony α7 IV if ergonomics are a priority. The cameras are evenly matched for photography, but the Sony does have a higher-resolution sensor, and the Canon has fewer native lens options and practically no third-party options. See our review
  • Nikon D780: The Nikon D780 is a fantastic full-frame DSLR that feels better in the hand than the Sony α7 IV. There are plenty of lenses available for portraits, and it has a great hybrid AF system. However, it lacks IBIS and has a lower-resolution sensor than the Sony camera. See our review
  • Nikon Z 5: The Nikon Z 5 is a great mid-range option if you want a full-frame camera at a similar price point as the Canon EOS 90D. However, keep in mind that full-frame lenses will run up the costs, with fewer lens options than you get with a DSLR. The Nikon also has a worse battery life and slower burst shooting. See our review
  • Fujifilm X-T4: The Fujifilm X-T4 is a great upper mid-range APS-C mirrorless camera. It's a bit more affordable than the Canon EOS R, but its smaller sensor makes it a bit harder to achieve shallower depths of field. See our review

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cameras for portrait photography for most people to buy, according to their budget. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability (no cameras that are difficult to find or almost out of stock in the U.S.).

If you'd like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our camera reviews. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There is no single perfect camera. Personal taste, ergonomic preferences, and shooting habits will matter more in your selection.